Reilly health reforms “foolhardy”, says Impact trade union

Conference hears criticism of Minister over lack of consultation on his change plans

Minister for Health James Reilly: “Even a bad plan can be improved upon, but you can’t function with no plan at all,” chairman of the health division of the trade union Impact, Tony Martin, told  its annual  conference. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Minister for Health James Reilly: “Even a bad plan can be improved upon, but you can’t function with no plan at all,” chairman of the health division of the trade union Impact, Tony Martin, told its annual conference. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 


Reforms being pursued by Minister for Health James Reilly to introduce a particular model of universal health insurance and new hospital trusts are “foolhardy”, the chairman of the health division of the trade union Impact has said.

Addressing the division’s conference in Portlaoise, Tony Martin said there did not appear to be a plan of any kind, “just a dogged determination to pursue policies that will fail to deliver equity or quality”.

He said the Minister’s proposals represented a huge departure for a health service that was already creaking under the strain of falling numbers, shrinking budgets “and the blunt instrument of the recruitment moratorium”.

Mr Martin said that Dr Reilly had consistently declined to meet with Impact despite numerous requests.

“With proper planning and consultation, the Minister could at least avail of our expertise from within the health sector. Even a bad plan can be improved upon, but you can’t function with no plan at all.

“But above all, you can’t ignore your own workforce, which is what the Minister is effectively doing. But it’s not just us.”

“There’s been no consultation with communities, there’s been no consultation with service users, there’s been no consultation with professional groups and there has been no consultation with hospitals.

“As a union, we need to resist political attempts to mindlessly hammer these policies into existence. Consultation is the key, Minister, because – without the input of health staff – mistakes are inevitable. On behalf of all the people we serve, that can’t be allowed to happen,” he said.

Mr Martin also called on the trade union movement to remain united despite the uncertainty over the proposed Croke Park II agreement.

“As we pause now, in a moment of uncertainty about what will happen next, we must remember to strive to stick together through thick and thin.”